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Tips for Virtual House Hunting for Realtors Working with Homebuyer Clients

Published April 28, 2020 by Real Estate Leads

It doesn’t need to be explained why it’s not possible to go through the process of looking at homes for sale in the standard way right now. Fortunately most people do understand the importance of avoiding being out in public when it’s not absolutely necessary during these very trying times of a global pandemic that – unless you were alive 102 years ago – none of us have ever experienced before.

Now it is true that the real estate market in Canada is depressed right now, but there are still prospective homebuyers who are ready to make offers on homes they want to buy – provided they still have the means of both finding them and doing their research on them.

This is what leads us to our discussion of the ever-growing trend towards ‘virtual’ house hunting here today. A real estate agent needs to first be able to generate clients, and then be able to serve them effectively – even if that’s not easy to do for whatever reason. As it relates to the first part of that equation, our online real estate lead generation system here at Real Estate Leads is an excellent way to get more out of the efforts any realtor puts into new client prospecting. And at this time, giving yourself an advantage there may be more valuable than ever!

But back to topic – One of the things any realtor is going to be required to do these days is still offer clients viewings of homes, and that’s true for both the listing realtor and the buyer’s realtors. However, now these viewings may need to be virtual ones, and it’s important to understand as well that this trend is going to fade away once the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end.

Effective Virtual House Showing Approaches

It’s true the spring typically kicks off the busiest home-buying period of the year, and while that may be in a big-time reduced capacity this year it still is what it is. Now realtors and clients have no choice but to think of how to safely view homes without risking infection.

We’ll start with images. There are going to be some red flags to look for as you click through pictures, keeping in mind that they may not always show the true details of a property:

Are there more photos of the exterior than the interior? This can be a clue that the interior of he home is quite lacking Closed curtains and blinds in a photo are usually hiding a bad view.

Be suspicious of room photos that focus on one point or fixture exclusively. If a picture of a bathroom focuses on a sink, for example, it may mean the bathroom is painfully small.

If photos look stretched out, the seller or agent may well be attempting to make a room appear bigger.

Some listing terms should be red flags as well. A ‘fixer-upper’ can mean a great investment, but it also may mean a money pit. ‘Cozy may be a misnomer hiding the fact that the home is small and not suitable for a family.

Squeeze the Max Out of Virtual Tours

Virtual tours of properties in Canada is increasingly becoming the norm now. You can instruct your clients to look for the virtual tour icon on the bottom of the listing page. One good thing to do if they are particularly interested in a specific property is ask to see more of the video.

It’s quite common for parts of the house to be left on the editing room floor to keep the video short and dynamic.

Another option is to make a FaceTime (audio and visual) call during which the agent walks would-be buyers through a home, sharing footage of the features. Another is to have you show your clients what they want to see while uncovering  any blind spots in the original video.

Providing clients with a detailed floor plan of the space is also standard nowadays, as it helps them with determining how big a room is, or how high the ceilings are, etc.

Dig into Disclosures

When clients continue to have interest in the possibility of purchasing a home following their review of photos and videos from the virtual tour, then it’s time to ask the selling agent for the seller disclosure. This should outline any known problems with the home’s structure, plus the age of various features and any improvements.

It’s quite common here for buyers to find out facts about the house that will aid them in deciding whether to move forward, or rule it out. As their realtor, you should always be very proactive in requesting this disclosure and discussing the ramifications of it with your clients.

Don’t Skip Checking Out the Neighbourhood

Always keep in mind that for the majority of clients the  the surrounding neighborhood is just as important as the house itself. Google Earth is an excellent resource we all have at our disposal these days, and realtors should definitely be taking of advantage of it as well as recommending it to clients if they themselves are not aware of it or how to use it.

It’s very good for seeing if the home they’re interested in is near schools, shopping centers, restaurants, parks, and public transportation. Interactive neighborhood maps are another good suggestion.

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